5 Ways Music Benefits Early Childhood Education

May 31, 2013 at 10:12 am | Posted in music education | 1 Comment

As a child, I was lucky to be surrounded and influenced by a variety of musical genres from many different eras. The songs I sang, the instruments I played, and the ballet music I danced to, influenced my life in so many positive ways.

I thought about this after an experience with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and it led me to create The Magic of Think®. I wanted to help children develop and strengthen social, emotional, and artistic skills through feel-good music. After all, filling our heads with positive music is like feeding our brains with healthy vitamins, right?

In my experience, music can benefit Early Childhood Education in the following ways:

  • Healing Through Music – Children can experience different emotional states from optimism to relaxation through a variety of genres. Rock producer, Daniel Levitin, now an associate professor at McGill University and one of the world’s leading experts in cognitive music perception, states that “Music activates the same parts of the brain and causes the same neurochemical cocktail as a lot of other pleasurable activities like orgasms or eating chocolate. I think the promise of music as medicine is that it’s natural and it’s cheap and it doesn’t have the unwanted side effects that many pharmaceutical products do.”
  • Identifying and Understanding Emotions – Studies have shown that being skilled in music increases the sensitivity to pitch, thereby enhancing pitch detection in both music and speech. Sylvain Moreno states, “Six-year-old children followed one year of keyboard, vocal, drama or no-lessons. Results showed that the keyboard group performed equivalently to the drama group and better than the no-lessons group at identifying anger or fear.” Thompson et al. (2004)
  • Encouraging Positive Attitudes – Positive lyrics contribute to the reduction of fear and anxiety by helping children decrease the habit of negative thinking. Positive music also helps children become more excited and motivated about learning.
  • Reducing Stress With Laughter – Combining music with humorous lyrics can help children reduce stress. A child having a hard time dissolving negative emotions will find that laughter provides a release as well as a workout! One of the most prominent laughter researchers, Dr. William Fry, of Stanford University, reported that 100 laughs a day are equivalent to 10 minutes on a rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike.
  • Promoting Communication – In addition to the above four points, The Magic of Think®, uses animated characters to encourage communication. With the characters singing a variety of songs that detail their problems as well as their solutions, children open up and talk about their own thoughts and emotions without feeling targeted. The characters can help a child stay at a safe emotional distance yet inspire communication and interaction.

“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents.” Ludwig van Beethoven


The Author, Janyse Jaud, is an award-winning singer/songwriter, voiceover actress, author, and thinkologist working with clients such as Hasbro, Warner Bros., Marvel, Discovery, and The Cartoon Network. http://www.themagicofthink.com

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Sylvain Moreno (January 2006) Influence of musical training on pitch processing, Retrieved from http://www.researchgate.net/publication/8646949_Decoding_speech_prosody_do_music_lessons_help

Wired Magazine (August 2006) Music Makes Your Brain Happy, Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/medtech/health/news/2006/08/71631

International Child and Youth Care Network, Christine Puder (August 2003) The Healthful Effects of Laughter, Retrieved from http://www.cyc-net.org/cyc-online/cycol-0803-humour.html

The Muse in Mother Nature

May 1, 2013 at 7:47 am | Posted in Music Teachers Resources | Leave a comment
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By Ken Couslon of Gatsby’s Green Light

The pitter-patter of the raindrops sounds like a symphonic drum circle resonating all around me. It is here I am reminded of the inextricable link between music and nature. It was something I was first exposed to in Victor Wooten’s ‘The Music Lesson’ and something I am reminded when I spend precious moments in the woods or set foot on a farm or field with my guitar.

Music exists all around us and it is the musicians’ job to channel those vibrations he or she is able to tune into. The big ones, the ones that have been ringing out for billions of years are found in our natural environment. And they tell a story too, like all music. At once, one can tap into all creation or simply our moment in time within it.

The contours of the farmland or the rocky wooded peaks and valleys are akin to nature’s dynamic and intention, its lessons on notes and space. From what I can tell it’s a welcoming place and without it our lives, like a life without music, hold less meaning. So it would hold that in order to protect our culture, like we value or story, we must protect music and nature as two in the same.

Spreading this message in a more direct way is what we hope to do with Gatsby’s Green Light. GGL is part of a mixed media approach to promote positivity and sustainability. Like the importance of music in carrying the message, we see sustainability as an investment in every living thing. We’re not the pioneers but hopefully our project can approach people thinking on all different types of levels. We want to promote good ideas and grassroots efforts in motion as well as brainstorm big formulaic changes that can guide us to a more sustainable way of life.

Ken & Gatsby’s Green Light at Norwalk CT’s LIVE GREEN 2012’

We love connecting with a tuned in audience. It’s always easy to share our vibrations knowing that our common goals are already established. When I played to 800 at CT Northeast Organic Farmers Association’s Winter Conference I was amazed at the energy and ideas that seemed almost palpable in the sounds vibrations of the cafeteria. There the conversation, verbal and non-verbal, flows easily. We’ll hope to play up to 50 of these types of event in 2013 including farmers’ markets, green fairs, bookstores, and sustainable farms. We’ve got more solar powered shows in our future.

When we play traditional music venues our message translates in more subtle ways. I love seeing someone’s face light up when I talk about our 100% recycled download cards that are embedded with wildflower seeds. ‘Plant em after you’ve downloaded the music!” or sharing with a curious listener some of the easy community driven ways they can support sustainability and support themselves.

For more on Gatsby’s Green Light’s view on sustainable living and resources, visit us here: http://gatsbygreenlight.com/sustain/

OUR logo depicts the sun and the earth and the unbreakable bond between them

Of course, we hope to share and act in much bigger ways in the future. We’ve done some work understanding the energy industry and how renewable sources can and must play their part in our energy future. I am happy to talk with people at shows about what we’ve found. We’d love for our platform to grow enough to reach politicians and decision makers with these ideas. As always, we ask these folks to look to places that have made sun and wind power work and emulate their programs. Places like Germany and Sweden immediately come to mind.

If you study the problems, it becomes clear that the time for action is right now. We’re choosing music, art and literature as tools to help tells this story and hopefully reach a wider audience. But we’ll need your help. Just like the sustainable living effort itself, we need to do this together.

Ken Coulson is the founder of Sonic Bomb LLC, a mixed-media company that uses art to raise awareness about sustainable living solutions. He is an advocate of Natural Capitalism, a multi-instrument musician and is writing his first book, Annalee & The Forever Smile. His musical project is at http://www.gatsbygreenlight.com

Dating a Gibson Flat Top

February 28, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Posted in Guitars, Music Instruments | Leave a comment
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Gibson guitars have an unsurpassed charm. Different shapes, sizes, and prices made them available for everyone. Gibson intentionally placed musicians and luthiers as decision makers in the company’s production lines. Companies that make instruments for a long time find as they overlook their history that the instruments in some way reflect the social and political events of the era. Many guitars have their sound improve with age. Understanding how to date a vintage guitar helps one find that special one that has a sound that speaks to your soul.

Flat top

Flat tops were made 1930s to 1950s. Depending on how the inside of the body of the guitar is braced affects the sound but also made the guitars collectible. When looking through the sound hole of a guitar, the bracing becomes apparent. Two major types exist: ladder bracing and X bracing with an occasional H bracing appearing in some models. Inexpensive Gibson models used ladder bracing and are not considered collectibles. When deciding to purchase vintage flat top check the bracing first to see if you can get your money’s worth.

L-0 Flat top

These Gibson guitars made the markets from 1926 to 1942. Because of the light construction many of the guitars sounded great but could not take the daily wear and tear of a guitar put through the paces. Few survived the grind. Width was 13.5 inches with spruce or mahogany tops. Models had dot inlays on the fingerboards while later models and three on the strip tuners sometimes with the Gibson logos placed on them.

L-1 Flat top

Made from 1926 to 1937, the guitars often had little larger body width as wide as 14.75 inches.  Fingerboards were often rosewood as was their bridges. By the 1930’s models the bridges became rectangular, and the fingerboards became unbounded. In 1932, the sprayed sunburst design appeared to offer a nice contrast to the mahogany back, and sides.

L-00 Flat top

The improvements in this series of guitars made it collectible. Marketed from 1932 to 1945 the bigger 14.75 inch body, “v” shaped neck and 3-on-a-plate back strip tuners along with the tapered peg head got noticed. The sunburst design became prominent. A banner added in the year 1943 saying “Only a Gibson is Good Enough” added a nice touch after such a successful series.

L-2 Flat top

Some of the 1929 to 1934 models became collectibles as well. Many of these guitars changed to the Nick Lucas body style which had a trapeze tailpiece. Pricing due to the frequent use of rose wood increased on this design line. Bridges became adjustable and longer.

Nick Lucas Flat top

A maple back with a sweet sound Gibson created a guitar many loved to play. Marketed from 1928 to 1941 distinctive features of 2 multi-ply sound hole rings, pyramid rose bridges, fleur-de-lis inlay, and changed sound hole perfing gave an eye catching look. Nick Lucas guitars did have serial numbers but to insure an “A” level collectible date the guitar by specs.

All these models have a similar look so when buying a vintage guitar investigate the details thoroughly. The ratings for a collectible guitar are based on market dynamics, specific features, and quality of sound. Do your homework, play the guitar and admire the great craftsmanship.

Joseph Sedillo is a music blogger who shares his thoughts and playlists with anyone that will listen. He’s a big fan of Gibson guitars from Music Junkie.

Here Comes Baby F and it Plays Well With Others

January 14, 2013 at 1:19 am | Posted in music education | Leave a comment
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You have a brand new guitar. One has learned C and G7 and has lovingly caressed the strings downward in a rhythmic pattern. With these two simple chords songs have been sung to all your friends. The “F” chord which would open the door to thousands of songs comes difficult for a beginner and takes time to perfect. No worries. A “Baby F” will allow access to those songs, and strength your hand and fingers in anticipation for the day that when playing the full chord of “F” becomes as easy as all the other chords.

Look down the neck of your guitar, and one will see bars evenly spaced. Slowly take your hand and go all the way to the head of the guitar. Just below the head will be a space, and then fret bar number one.  The guitar has six strings. The one closest to the head is big, ole, low note E number six. The one closest to the feet is tiny, sweet, high note E number 1. For Baby F one needs string 1 and 2.

In fret one right next to that first golden or silver fret bar place the first finger flat on both string one and two. So now one has experienced double string playing pleasure. Plus it will strengthen the member to prepare it for the rigorous ready to rock grown up F. It is important one places the thumb on the same hand in the center of the back side of the neck behind the first fret. One will need to put just the right amount of pressure from the front finger and from the back thumb. Think of it as a kneading pinch of the neck of the guitar.One will want be firm, but not too forceful. Strum four strokes down on only string 1 and 2. When the pressure is just right the strings will sing out loudly.

Adding Some Spice

Now that one has the basic strum pattern down one needs to play with a group of 3 chords. Many songs use only 3 chords; the key, the fourth and the fifth. Our key today is the key of Baby C. So the fourth is Baby F followed by the fifth which is Baby G7. Human ears love sweet whisperings or full blown exclamations of alternating 3 chords. Start with Baby C strum 4, then simply lay the first finger flat on string 1 and 2, strum 4, then pick up first finger, and place it on string one for Baby 7, strum 4.

Improving the first songs one learned comes as simple as varying the strum patterns. Make a Baby C and strum down, then immediately reverse and bring the strum up ~ down, up, down, up, down, up ~ like stroking a kitten down its back, and then ruffing the fur with a reverse stroke. Change to Baby G7 or Baby F. Go slow; speed up; slow down; then go as fast as one can.

Like anything else in life regular practice helps the learning. Twenty minutes a day done lovingly will establish a good relationship with your guitar, and he/she will return the love with amazing melodies floating in the air.  Once proficient, contact the music store for lessons on full blown chords.

Links to Adult Songs and Strum Patterns

The Internet has thousands of sites with strum patterns and chords for beginners. Check out Guitar About.com for strum patterns for beginners. Peruse Chordie.com for new chords and songs. Better yet visit a music store or full service listed later in this article to get the full experience of being a guitarist.

Justin Miller is a professional blogger that writes on a variety of topics including guitar lessons. He writes for JamPlay.com, a leading online music educator offering 2,000+ video guitar lessons in HD.

Piano and Keyboard Method Educational Edition Version 3.0

August 15, 2012 at 2:08 am | Posted in Music Teachers Resources | 1 Comment
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The easiest way to teach piano and keyboard in your music classroom!

Seattle, WAAugust 14, 2012, eMedia Music Corp., publisher of the world’s best-selling and award-winning series of music tutorial CD-ROMs, announces the release of Version 3.0 of eMedia Piano & Keyboard Method Educational Edition, developed specifically for schools and educators to teach students using eMedia’s innovative technology. Students will learn to play using over 300 step-by-step full-screen lessons and more than 70 video demonstrations taught by distinguished Juilliard School of Music instructor, Irma Irene Justicia, M.A. Improvements for Version 3.0 and new features include a new internet-based Assessment Server option, a Student Home User Edition for at-home use, new Instant Feedback, new Note and Finger Tracker tools, improved progress and assessment reporting and more. eMedia Piano & Keyboard Method Educational Edition is recommended for Grades 4 and up.

New Instant Feedback works with both electronic keyboards and acoustic pianos. It listens to melodies through the computer’s microphone or MIDI and shows whether they are played correctly. With a MIDI keyboard, students also get a detailed evaluation with specific feedback on playing mistakes. Students learn to read music and play over 100 popular songs as an animated keyboard guides them through the fingerings.

As the students make their way through the course, the software records their progress by marking lesson screens that have been visited, and keeping a log of scores on interactive music theory review and ear training quizzes. When used with an electronic MIDI keyboard, an overall percentage score is also tracked for each song or exercise. With the included Instructor Tool, the instructor can review the students’ progress, take notes and generate reports as needed.

Teachers can manage up to 500 student accounts and use eMedia’s detailed assessment system to monitor students’ scores and advancement through the course. Integrated network connectivity has been upgraded to also support eMedia’s internet-based assessment server (one-year subscription included). It allows for easy implementation of progress sharing between Windows and Mac computers and enables students to practice either at home or in school while the teacher views progress & assessment information.

Students learn songs and exercises from either the music notation or an animated keyboard that displays fingerings in time with the music. Songs and exercises are enhanced by live-recorded audio, variable-speed MIDI keyboard tracks and colorful MIDI accompaniments. Students learn from over 100 popular classical, blues, pop and rock songs, including hit songs from composers and artists such as Ludwig van Beethoven, J.S. Bach, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan and Elton John. Other accessories include a built-in digital metronome, a one-track recorder and the new interactive Note & Finger Tracker.

The previous version of Piano & Keyboard Method was described by American Music Teacher Magazine as “Impressive and thorough”, and this new version is even more so. Over 300 lessons are now presented in scalable full-screen resolution for easy viewing. The over 70 videos can also be viewed in full-screen.

Licenses for eMedia Piano & Keyboard Method Education Edition Version 3.0 are available for schools and academic institutions to purchase now. The program is a hybrid CD-ROM for both Windows (XP/Vista/Windows 7/ Windows 8) and Macintosh (OSX 10.3+) platforms. Educators can download a complimentary 30-Day trial version of eMedia Piano & Keyboard Method Education Edition Version 3.0 for evaluation by visiting eMedia’s web site: http://www.emediamusic.com/academic/freetrials.html

Optimizing Your Music Teacher Website on Search Engines

March 2, 2012 at 2:26 am | Posted in music education, Music Teacher Profession, Music Teaching Tips | 4 Comments
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Lately, I have been receiving some music teacher inquiries on how to increase the number of their students. Some of them are asking for effective ways to advertise or market their music studios.

Although there are many ways to increase the popularity of a music teaching school, I think the best way is to develop a website and start optimizing it on search engines. This may sound so difficult but I have known some music teachers who have been very successful because of their well-managed website.

In creating a music teacher website, you may start using free blog portals like wordpress.com, weebly.com, webs.com or even blogger.com. Yet, it is still advisable to have your own website domain if you can afford it. It is also necessary to add some unique and relevant contents to gain trust from your readers.

After setting up your music teacher website, you may hire an SEO professional or company to initiate link building and social networking for your site. Again, this may be expensive but sure this can also be a good investment. I have been employing a search engine optimization expert for more than 3 years now and I’m glad to say that my music school business is constantly growing because of my website.

As a music teacher, I have limited knowledge and skills about computers and the internet. However, this never prevented me from utilizing technology and reaching out to more possible students. I always believe that it’s not wrong to seek help and professional assistance that’s why I hired a web designer and an SEO.

Gary Levin

The Art of Pioneering a Music Program

February 15, 2012 at 2:49 am | Posted in music education, Music Teacher Profession | Leave a comment
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How does one start a music program that is largely non-existent? Here in South Africa it’s only the private schools that include private/instrument music lessons in their curriculum. At the moment, I’m teaching music appreciation as a subject in a private boys school that is obsessed with sport (grades 4-8). Music is a very low priority and making headway is slow and sometimes, I have to admit, I want to fall down in a puddle on the floor in the fetal position and suck my thumb at the injustice of it all.

I had to ask myself, after coming from a co-ed school, what do boys want? What do boys love? I had to make it relevant for them. A while ago I read a book by Dr James Dobson called “bringing up boys”; in it, he states that most teachers gear their lessons towards girls and not boys. I had a long think about it and realized I did that very thing in my music lessons. Girls are generally very accepting about most things we do within music lessons, but boys are rough and ready, these warrior like personalities who couldn’t be bothered about singing and dancing unless it involves some sort of hip hop fight scene.

They like the physical stuff, like drumming. I am generalizing here, as many boys do enjoy other things, but in my experience, they are in the minority. I began to formulate lots of rhythm lessons and invested in many pairs of drum sticks and boomwhackers where the boys could whack out their frustrations, in a controlled environment, to their hearts content. I have had to be creative in picking what I do with them, especially in a school where the music budget is small.

Boomwhackers are great to be able to teach chord structures to the boys in a fun environment. I will put together a tuned rhythm where I use the chords C, F and G. I hand out C and E (C chord), F and A (F chord), and G and B (G chord). We then create a rhythm and the boys whack it out as hard as they want to on the tuned, hardy, plastic music makers. At the end of the time, their hands are sore, they’ve blown in their friends ears through the tubes, tried out the strength of the plastic on another persons head and left thanking me for a very enjoyable lesson. I swell in the face of gratitude as my next class enters to go through the whole scenario again.

And slowly, slowly, each year I’m around, I begin to make a little more headway in the music scene around our college. I have to place music where there is none and create opportunities for musicians where there were none… and when all is said and done, I can turn around and be immensely proud of placing a musical note in a sport infested environment.

– Celeste Smith

Celeste is also an author of a book that tells a true story about a family’s struggle and ultimate victory in dealing with a disabled child. She speaks very frankly about their ordeal and feelings of depression and anger. She speaks about how this affected her other child and her relationship with her husband. She brings you into her world now, which is a place of peace, security and victory through Jesus Christ.

Follow her on Twitterhttp://twitter.com/celestetracy

Share Your Music Teaching Experiences and Tips

February 14, 2012 at 1:54 am | Posted in music education, Music Teacher Profession, Music Teaching Tips, My Experinces | 1 Comment
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Music teaching is indeed an exciting and fulfilling profession. Although there are instances and experiences that may cause us problems and difficulties, being able to resolve these can make us more effective music educators and even make us improve ourselves.

Teaching music to students with different behaviors, capabilities, age and other personal characteristics can be difficult to handle. There are even times when we have students who are too demanding to learn music but they do not have such discipline to study their pieces. However and because of our love and passion for music, we always tend to cope up with these types of students and still perform our job professionally.

We all have various experiences and techniques in teaching music. We differ in solving different problems. Thus, we are asking you to share these experiences with other music teachers. Share your effective teaching methods or even reviews of gadgets and software that you are using in your music class. With your willingness to share these things, we hope that more music teachers can become better professionals.

Write your pieces and send them to us. Our email address is musicteacher541@gmail.com

We will gladly post it on this website and let other music teachers learn about your story.

PureSolo – An Online Music Recording Platform

February 13, 2012 at 2:16 am | Posted in Music Teachers Resources | 1 Comment
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PureSolo is a global online music-recording platform that allows users to download professionally-produced backing tracks and accompaniments from a vast catalog, and record their own versions using the website’s own built-in recorder. Each downloaded track comes complete with lyrics or sheet music, together with a backing track played by high quality session musicians. Backing Tracks can also be downloaded as a takeaway MP3 for use outside the PureSolo website.

Users can search the catalog of over 25,000 tracks from 35 different genres and 19 instruments. Once a track has been selected, it can be re-recorded as many times as the user wishes. Once completed, a recording can then be exported to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, while a profile is also created on PureSolo where users can upload a photo, share some of their musical inspirations, and comment and interact with other members of the community.

Starting a Business as a Music Teacher

January 30, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Posted in music education, Music Teacher Profession | 4 Comments
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Music teachers should not be afraid to take the leap into private sector teaching. Teaching music is almost a traditional occupation, with roots that go back hundreds of years. Today there are a few more legal hurdles to face, but setting up a music teaching business is no more difficult than setting up any other business.

A business plan is where most prospective small business owners start. Business plans can be very useful for obtaining loans and other forms of financing, but they are also useful as a way to get the details of a small business out on paper. The Small Business Administration offers templates for business plans. There are a number of commercial business plan templates available as well as software to help streamline the writing process. For example, MBA Online has a resource for entrepreneurs looking to start a business during an economic downturn. The Small Business Administration also recommends looking into classes to help with starting a small business and building business plans.

In addition to traditional hoops that businesses face, music teachers must formulate a marketing plan and methodology for attaining students. Consider using your existing network of music programs, teachers, and stores to help get your message out. Teach your students exciting music and set up recitals to give visibility to your teaching.

The next thing to consider is location. Most people are familiar with the traditional image of the music teacher meeting students at home. This is usually the cheaper option for teachers starting out, but it may not be the best option when local laws and ordinances are involved. Many towns will permit teaching of music in the home if teachers see one student at a time. Others, like the one in the article, have restrictions for parking. In that case, it may be necessary to book an outside location for recitals, while it is still possible to teach from home. Regardless, it is important to comply with all of the local zoning laws.

Financing a home-based music teaching business may not be difficult. Monthly rent for an outside location makes a music teaching business more intensive. Home-based teachers often rely on existing community relationships and word of mouth for advertising, while teachers who have to support an outside location need more regular students to keep the business going. Outside financing might be necessary to defray any startup costs. Small businesses can qualify for a number of low cost loans.

Business structure is the next thing to consider. Many small music teaching businesses manage well as sole proprietorships and limited liability corporations (LLC). Business structure determines which forms are needed for filing taxes, but it can also affect legal liability of the proprietor. Check state laws for business name registration. Most states do not require registration if small business owners use their own full name. Some states require registration for any fictitious name. Others base registration requirements on the business structure.

Small businesses are required apply for a tax number, register for state and local taxes and apply for any necessary permits at the state and local level. Contact the city and county government for music teaching permit information. Most local areas require a business license for private music teachers.

Beginning a music teaching small business is not a daunting task. Prospective teachers need to follow a few simple steps to ensure that everything is setup correctly. If in doubt, see the Small Business Administration for guidance. Many times classes for small business owners are available locally at community centers and other venues. Check into these for additional help with creating a business plan and taking care of business details.

—- Elaine Hirsch

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